tv Charlie Rose PBS August 10, 2011 12:00pm-1:00pm EDT
>> charlie: welcome to our program. tonight we begin a series of conversations part profile, part exchange of ideas, part trying to understand who we are, and where we are at this moment in our history tonight, george will, the columnist and abc news contributor. >> the government has been working the way james and madison wanted it to work. factions come here and fight it out, and until you get a broad consensus capable of operating a divided sovereignty, it's divided horizontally among the branches of government, it's divided vertically between the states and the federal government until you get a broad consensus the government doesn't
>> charlie: george will is captioning sponsored by rose communications with me in washington. he's a pulitr prize winning journalist, author and columnist. he's been writing about politics, history and sports for more than 40 years. he has a syndicated column in "the washington post" and he appears regularly as an analyst on abc's this week. i'm very please to do have him with me here at this table in washington. welcome. glad to see you sir. >> glad to be with you. >> charlie: tel me about this nation we both love. how do you assess where it is today. >> it's divided not frivolously
and divided by two profoundly different views what the reblican ought to be, what the relationship of the citizens and the central government ought to be. thpertinentness and germanenes to how theounders wanted us to live now. sometimes people ask me what's the best time in your 40 years as a columnist. right w. there's never been so many big issues in play with series pea -- serious people on both sides. >> charlie: i could not fail to write -- >> when i first started writing the column i asked bill buckally, bill's world interests me. it peaks my curiosity at least that often. >> charlie: what would james madison your favorite founding father say to us today. >> he would say as he said in
federalist 45 that the powers granted by the proposed constitution to the federal government are few and defined. he would look around and say not a few, there are too many. and they're not defined at all. that's why they are too many. he would urge people i think to go back and read the tenth amendment and try to reestablish someind of constitutional balance that his constitutional architecture tried to create. which is a government of limited, delegated and enumerated powers. >> charlie: after the healthcare battle, many peoe said that the great debate in the 2012 campaign will be the role of government. now after the recent debt limitations, they're saying the same thing. help me understand exactly what the questions are about the role and size of government. >> first of all, the fundamental problem is that we're consuming more than we produce. and we're doing so by borrowing money from abroad and by taxing
the unborn who not being born don't vote and their voices can't be annoying in our debate. >> charlie: things may not come to them and they had nothing to do with it. >> it was said to be the gre moment and the degradation of democracy when people discovered you could pax peter to pay paul. now we made a bigger discovery, you can tax paul's children to pay paul by just yeah loading trillians of dollars of debt year after year. but people are alarmed by this now. they understand it can't go on. standard & poor's and the tea party are saying exactly the same thing. this is unsustainable. >> charlie: but you don't treat standards and poors seriously as i understand what you said on "this week" yesterday becauseheir reputation because besummerred by what they do. their reputation is besummer muched for not taking them seriously. the second is eir statement was a kind of political screed on how they don't like the way
our government is functioning right now. >> charlie: they had no confidence that politics could take care of the economic allenge facing this country. >> yes. and i think they desir of our political system. people are constantly saying our system is dysfunctional when it's function precisely as james madison said it should function. but third the reason not being too alarmed by standard & poor's, what did we learn from them that we didn't already know. everyone was aware of the fact we couldn't go on like this. >> charlie: you are admiring of the tea party and have said before that it had the same kind of possibilities and when it change the conservativism and reagan and buckley and you and others changed conservativism but conservativism went on to elect ronald reagan and change the republican party >> i cast my first pridual vote in 1964 for barry goldwater. 27 million americans joined me
on that happy chore. >> charlie: lyndon johnson got how many. >> he got a lot more. he carried44 states. the trouble is i think it really took 16 years to count the votes. in 1980, we realized gold water has won because his was a very creative lost. he lost the election but took over the republican party and the end of the dispute that really driven the party since teddy roosevelt split with william howard taft in the912 election. the conservatives took over the party and without goldwater there would not have been a reagan presidency in my judgment. in that sense ihink the tea party has the same kind of potential political confundity that they can change the way we talk about our politics. they have said let's go back and read the documents, let's go back and understand the madisonian architecture and the project of limited government. and let's understand that what got us into this problem was a comprehensive disregard of any sense of limits on the part of
what government can do and how much it should claim of the national wealth. >> charlie: there is a sense of limits before the tea party came along. there were even limits within what was wanted in the stimulus program. you have larry summers and us saying we believe that the stimulus progm would have been much better and much more effective which it was $1.3 trillion rather than 800. there was a limitation there and the reason they didn't get 2.3 was because they couldn't get the votes. so there was a limittation. >> of course. a limitation in the sense that the liberal catechism consists of one word, more. when in doubt, not more. now charlie, when they said pass this, turned ou to be $860 billion stimulus. they said with the sufferable knowingness of the modern progressive. unemployment is 7.6%. pass this, it won't go over 8.
now it's over 9%. it's been over 9% for 24 months. >> charlie: i ask this of everybody. does george will have a program of job creation to recommend to the country, the president and to the congress. >> sure. you begin by saying what do we know didn't work. cash for clunkers, dollars for dishwasher, cash for -- these are all real programs. >> charlie: we don't know necessarily that they're very good and effective stimulus program wouldn't work and wouldn't have been needed. >> lots of things we don't know. the sensible politics begins with a miss ma logical modesty about what we can know about a comprehensive society. >> charlie: do you accept the premise at the time the economic premise we're facing the country, a stimulus would have been an effective economic theory. >> probably. >> charlie: there you go. >> i say probably because charlie, none of the tragedies, certainly if you're a progressive you say this is a tragedy. the way they did the stimulus.
the stimulus became a grab bag of all the liberal wishes and valited the conseative criticm, high speed rails. >> charlie: in placeslike china, they are seeing high speed rails, although it's come down a bitn terms of this enthusiasm for it. high speeds rails are sheen as an investment in the future. >> charlie, i don't know how many times we have to go through this in this country, watching a kind of fascination supposed efficiently at totalitarian states and their economy. gam brate and others said, the union and come power is going to really overtake us. it turns out it was a jungle. >> charlie: one you want to create jobs and two you want to see economic growth, correct. three you want to make an investment in the future. you want to have an investment in science, research, investment
in those things that make a difference in the future for the very children you're talking b all those goals that you could identify with. >> sure. the first one in which the first one that takes priority of all the other is economic growth. the economist thw off the revenues to pay the bills for the spending aka investments that you thank you about. so the first thing you want to do is in my judgment is what reagan did. reagan came in -- president obama acts as though he was the first president hu ever inheritehis country from the predecessor that wasn't perfect. think ofhat reagan -- remember the misery index under carter, added the inflation in unemployment and you were over 20%. reagan came in and said well we're goin to lighten the load of government on the private sector. we're going to cut taxes. we're going to cut regulations. this president has not done that, and i think it's time to try that. >> charlie: he also said we're going to increase the
defensbudget. >> you want the world program. coorate tax rate which is now even stagnant, japan has lower its corporate tax rate ours should be radically lower. >> charlie: can i startle you by saying the president of the united states is in favor of at. >> so he now says. i would lower it to zero because i don't believe corporations pay tax, they click taxes. they have to pass taxation on as a cost of doing business. i would eliminate the death tax. i don't know why death is a taxable event in this coury. >> charlie: no more estate taxes. >> no taxation without respiration, that's right. go back to t classic bill bradley ronald reaganen tax reform of 1980. six, lower the rates by eliminating loopholes. >> charlie: that's tax reform. my impression is that's what the president was recommending.
>> as the election approaches and the expiez dk i been. >> charlie: i want to say with this idea now because what you were suggesting in par was what the simpson bowls recommended, it's what theang of six recommended and in part what the presint recommended that you give all the credit it seems to me to the think party. >> i think the tea party unquestionably changed the landscape. none of this would have happened none of this would havehappened without the change of the conversation in this capitol. like the president likes to say elections have consequences. that one d absent that, absent those 87 members who live in the house of representatives. they would not have dug in and made the debt ceiling increase anaction forcing chanism. >> charlie: were they prepared? were they prepared to hold, i'll use that word, country to their
own demands so that, i know you're smiling. so that unless the president bowed to their wishes, there would be no extension of the debt ceiling. >> first. 95, i believe it was 95 democratic members of the house of representatives in the final vote voted against raising the debt increase. 25 senators. >> charlie: that's what i knew you would say. >> so both sides have done this. in the most. i think in 2004, the house democrats voted unanimously against raising the debt ceiling. the tea party feels so strongly -- >> charlie: including the president voted against it. >> that's right. the tea party people feel so strongly that this is a moment of constitutional significance, that this is enough debate about the nature of the american regime that they were, as you say, prepare to hold the country hostage. i would say they're prepared to
be highly principled and intel leant a durate in using such ledger. it's limit. we have three branches of government. it controls one half branch of the government and got rather a lot i think in trying to turn this super tanker of the state a little bit. >> charlie: they changed the debate and got a lot in terms of what their goals were. would the country have been better if the boehner/obama grand bargain had taken place what was what the gang of six wanted and very similar to what simpson wanted, a bipartisan group. and similar in part to what fall coburn would haveiked. >> i'm not sure. first of all, we never qte got the grand target on paper. >> charlie: because the tax, the tea par wouldn't let it get there. >> also because at that crucial moment of negotiations when boehner was as i understand it
prepared to have $800 million new dollars in new revenues, the president said i'm going to move the goal post we wants 600 million more. boehner threw up his hands and walked out. >> charlie: i read that story. we weren't there so we don't really know. so it really wasn't ever possible. >> no. i'm also skeptical of comprehensive solutions to the energy problem, comprehensive solution to climate change, comprehensive solution to healthcare. we do things better in small bites. >> charlie: governor perry may run. if he runs in the republican primary what impact will it have. >> it will either be huge of a flameout. he will either bee a very rong candidate. i would suspect, i'm just guessing here. i would suspect that the first poll taken i the field after he enters the race, assuming he knows, he will be ahead. because he brings together both the sort of tenth amendment, small government, conservatives
and the social conservatives. that's a powerful combination in the nominating process. the question is, and it's always a question in our politics from a govern to goldwater in both parts. someone could be more nominatable than electable. how do you sell governor perry to bucks county. who tend of the day dispeas -- >> charlie: an america and independent america. >> correct. >> charlie: because of the social conservatives and other views. >> correct. and i don't know the answer to that. he has a terrific story to tell on jobs to the extent that he defines himself as the job creator in texas. tation is one of three states, only three states that today has more jobs than it had when the recession began. >> charlie: i know that's a fact. why is that? >> it's partly basic friendally
climate. >> charlie: in terms of taxation. >> it's a right to work state. the whole thing comes together. >> charlie: so you've used this term,tation exceptionalism. clearly the goveor will use it. >> yes. >> what about american exceptionalism. >> i profoundly believe on it. >> charlie: has it been tarnished? >> i don't think so. the president famously when asked about this said well i think the british think they're sensational. it doesn't mean different. this is not some liberal seems to think a form of a new kind of jingoism on the part of america. it has a long pedigree tracin all wait back to toquevie. toqueville said americans are different because they were born free. because they were born free, they have no futile past, they have no entrenched aristocracy, they have no established religion.
we had an exceptional revolution that did not try to create a government that would deliver happiness but we created a government that would get out of the way of the individual's pursuit ofiness by pursuing rights that existed before the government. we have an exceptional execution in that it does not say what the government must do for us, it says what the government may not do to us. that is the core of americ exceptionalism. >> charlie: american exceptionalism today is also seen through the prism of whether those values will serve us today in a 21st century world that's very different. >> that is the argument. that's exactly the argument is whether or not the founders are out of date. now odrow wilson doesn say as much. woodrow wilson a century ago became, almost, 2012, became the first american president to criticize e american founding. and he did so root and branch. it was not around the edges. >> charlie: what did he say. >> he said the american
constitution was fine for a time when we had four million people, 80% o them living within 20 miles of atlantic tide water. but now we're united by copper wires and steel rails, we're a national economy and frankly it's out of date. what he focused on particularly was the separation of powers. he says it inhibtz the government from being able to tack bombedly and constantly. that was the progressive agenda was to try toover turn the madisonian restraints. the charlie. the founders went to philadelphia in the summer of 87, they didn't go to create an efficient government, it would have horrified them. they wanted a safe government. to which ends? they created a government full of blocking mechanisms, three branches of government, two branches of leglative branch veto, veto overrides, super majority. and yet i can think of nothing that the american people have wanted intensely and protractedly that they did not
get. the system works. >> charlie: but is the system today broke. >> people say dysfunconal washington you can't do big things. under barack obama, he passed -- 18% of american economy. it's big and it got don they passed a $160 bill stimulus. >> charlie: when you say nationalization of healthcare people would stip forward and y no they didn't get what they wanted. those that wanted that didn't get that. in fact they ended up with something similar to what richard nixon and mitt romney and lots of other people were in favor of. that's clearly not the nationalization of healthcare. >> yes, it is. in fact wt we learned over the years -- >> charlie: the individual mandated what nationalization's about. >> that's part of it. the less aspiration for years has been to have government
control of the commanding heights of the economy. >> charlie: the left wants government control of the commanding heights of the economy. >> control is the operative word. it's not public ownership. we now realize with regulations and financial incentives and subsidies and all the rest. government can become the decisive player, permating. you can have a single pair system. you can have the government comprehensively control the healthcare system without a public option. >> charlie: was the healthcare system broken? >> yes, as a flat, cess. >> charlie: should we hope everybody shall have access to healthcare. >> sure. >> charlie: cross containment and cess would have been
laudable goals. it's a yes or no. >> it's a yes or no with this asterisk. the fact is people have access to healthcare. it's cost shifting, it's going to -- >> charlie: emergency rooms and that's not the way to go. >> you use the word access. access has a meaning. >> charlie: they used the word -- >> that is right. that's what i'm saying. the president's problem in making, he made two presidency-shaping and perhaps presidency-destroying blders. one was the statement lust which was so ugly. the second was at a moment when the country was desperately frightened by economic events and their jobs, was to say we're not going to talk about jobs, we're going to talk about healthcare. now he turned to a country where 85% had healthcare and that 85% re happy and said we're going to do this but what's in it for me. >> charlie: the other side of that question is he wanted to do it because he thought as every politician nods you get more
ne during the first two years of your presidency than you do the remaining six if you have that luxury. so go for it while you've got the majority in the congress. >> i think he also wanted to do it because he wanted to complete the new deal great society project and that was the remaining keystone in the arch. >> charlie: his enemies think he's like you. ey think he's a center-right politician. >> let me defend him. against that slur. >> charlie: on the one hand people are saying he's a socialist and on the other hand -- >> i'm not saying he's a socialist, i'm not saying he's unamerican. i'm saying he's the disstilled he is instance of the american thing. the american progressive movement that goes right back to herbert and woodrow wilson. >> charlie: where would you put franklin roosevelt. >> in that tradition. >> charlie: the who requirements the progressive dream is it more woodrow with
wilson than franklin roosevelt. >> yes, because wilson was a more theoretical, he gave the theory for which roosevelt would pracce. >> charlie: rooseveltlso was a pragmatist too, was he not. >> sure. >> charlie: that's the argument they make about president obama. >> i know they do. >> charlie: he's a pragmatist. look at the economy not brought about by george bush but b an economicollapse and a sub-prime crises and other things. thereaft you needed the programhich you agreed with. >> no. look, the program as advertised might have been all right. we're going to help by the toxic assets of troucdqb financial institutions. i don't see anywhere in that where they're going to go buy general motors. again, you can't -- >> charlie: was george will presented to see general motors go under. >> absolutely. >> charlie: that's th american way. >> well first of all, general motors did go under in the sense
it went through bankruptcy. >> charlie: of course it did. was general motors worth being the way it is if in fact they pay back the money and if in fact they back a healthy auto company and jobs were saved and a great american iconic company. >> have recently flown on u.s. air or delta. >> charlie: this morning. >> delta, u.s. air, united are just someof the airlines that have gone bankrupt in this country. that wasn't go enough for the obama situation. they twisted bankruptcy out of shape for the benefit of the united auto workers. >> charlie: what we see in american politics is that first because of the stimulus program, secondly -- third healthcare. at some point, people in america and certainly those of a tea party persuasion said something's happening here that is not the america i believe in.
>> correct. that's exactly what they said and they said it very early. they said it in 2009. >> charlie: after the crises. >> when the president was inaugurated, 13 blocks from where we're sitting, noon january 20th, 2009. the assumption on the part of the american left was capitalism was in crises, the 30's are back and the american people will not only demand, and they will be enthusiastic about a large expansion of government. two and-a-half years later, charlie, the conversation of this town is more conservative than in reagan ups hey. >> charlie: the guiding factor is it's not more government. en the guiding factor behind president obama.
>> he didn't stand up against the tea party. >> charlie: he was a guy who saw the reality of where he was, and believed in a balanced approach to this crises. >> the president, what you call a balanced approach, the president sa im wling to stand and die on the last ditch fighting for tax increases. that's what he said. >> charlie: by tax increases he meant -- >> tax increases. >> charlie: did he mean going out and changing the rate of taxes or simply reducing the deductions that some people in this society who have been more fortunate than others. >> inone of his statements, i think it was the july 11 statement, he said i will not accept, that's language of the city party, he said i will not accept the deal which he eventually did accept that allows people like me to keep hundreds of thousands of dollars we don't need. there's no way to parse that without saying that is a call for increasing tax rates the highest marginal talk rates o personal income. >> charlie: let me just take
you back to 2009. a new president comes to town and you know where i going. he gets a dinner invitation. he goes to the home of george will. >> yes. >> charlie: mr. will has collected conservatives there a week before the inauguration. what's the conversation, is that man, this man who you talked to that evening, had a dialogue with over dinner, is he different? >> little bit different. he was awfully seren at my house about his confidence and his ability to regulate the economy. progressivism is nothing if not confident about its ability. >> charlie: so he was more serene and less confident. >> no. he was serene and confident. >> arlie: serene and confident, okay. >> but nothing like what i've seen since. this terrific confidence. >> charlie: what do you ink happened? >> i think that this is, as i say, nothing happened.
this is the emergence in full flower of american progressivism after 100 years of maturation. this is what it looks like. >> charlie: if he had not proposed healthcare as he did, would we be looking at the same economic and political reality? >> i don't know. because it's quite possible that if he had said instead of concentrating on healthcare, i'm going to concentrate on jobs. he might have made matters worse because again, we're beginning, some of us, replicate the great depression. experts argue about why the new deal failed. no one disputes that it failed at its primary objective which was put the country back to work. larry summers said recently, if it hadn't been for wor war ii roosevelt would not have been re-elected because he would have fell. that's larry summers. it failed. >> charlie: a lot of people say that. >> of course, that's right. now some people say it was a
mistake he made in 37 and 38 and all that. but anyway, we may be reproducing the certainties that caused capitaln about 1937 or 38 to simply go on strike. we don't know the rules anyone, we don't know bankruptcy or the rules of invest. too much uncertainty. they just stopped and it wasn't until -- >> charlie: let me make the counteraument on that. even quote larry summers as well. it is not the issue of confidence, now, it is the issue of there is no demand. >> that's related to confidence. because the american people -- >> charlie: they don't have the confidence. >> they've seen their 401k's, they've seen the securities, they've seen their housing values go down. we are now at a point charlie where approximately a third of americans with mortgages are under water. that is they owe more on their mortgages than their property is worth. how frightening that is. >> charlie: why do you think that was. how did we find ourselves in
that circumstance. >> we decided here in washington. >> charlie: we. >> fannie mae, freddy m, community reinvestment act. a decision was made in washington -- >> charlie: the sector which was pouring that money to those people. >> at the urging of government. we decided in washington that it was the god given righ of evyone in america to own a home. >> charlie: it would be a great thing if americans could own a home >> go back to perry in texas. tation says ifyou buy a house have you to put 20% down. >> charlie: right. i always thought you did anyway. >> no. people were getting no money down. no documentation on your loa because someone's idea of social justice was that the government just knew what the right percentage of home ownership in this country was. so many problems, charlie, stemmed from the fact that this government thinks it knows things it does not know, and
cannot know. >> crlie: the previous government, george w. bush, left to barack obama on huge deficit. >> what we used to call a huge deficit. >> charlie: there you go. you had a prescription drug program, you had two wars, unfounded wars. >> i think the prescription drug entitlement, grafted on to medicare may be a large entitlement program without a dedicating funding. an act of congress -- >> charlie: it began -- >> absolutely. first, the first wave election 2006 we're now going through was a repudiation of the republican party and the republican party earned it. >> chare: what about bush 412 and his presence that seems
to be rising a bit. >> he gets george herbert walker bush gets serious credit for having brought the western world, the united states and the soviet union and all of arbitrate allies through the peaceful disillusion of an empire. the liquidation of the cold war without a shot fires. historians will look back and that's what they will see of george herbert walker bush and it's huge. >> charlie: here's what other people will say too. if you look at the period between that time and the beginning of the iraqi war under his son, that that's when we lost opportunities in a sense to play a different role in the world. >> well it could be. >> charlie: we were in a commanding position, the only super power and look where we are today. of in the polar world which we're still the strongest country in the world but there are a number of factors that- >> i've been amused by how many
people deplore the fact that it's a multipower world. and take this as evidence of american decline. the multipower world, charlie, the consummation of american policy we have wanted china to join the world economy. >> charlie: agreed. >> we have wanted india and brazil and the other emerging markets to emerge. we have wanted 100 million people a year to come into middle class existence and join the consumer republican of -- >> charlie and we have believed in anyway though and a series of other treaties. >> yes. it may be time to wind up nato. >> charlie: so on foreign policy. we have here a transformative event taking place, the arab spring. assess what the president has done and what he should have done. >> the president is faulted unfairly in my judgment for not getting out in front of this, as though the people in tahrir
square and cairo or the people in to tunisia, we want to live in a world -- we want to bring freedom there. we have to understand that our rhetoric is a tiny significance in all this. well the president went slightly nuts in my judgment over libya. i mean, how many days has it been since he even mentioned libya. that to me is the most -- >> charlie: he went nuts because he didn't get a war resolution's power because he got involved in the first place. >> he got involved in the first place. no one believes that two governs in tripoli -- >> charli he never ggesd that it was about who governs, he suggest it was about avoiding a massacre. >> on to benghazi. at took about two weeks before they decide actually to prevent a massacre we have to have
regime change. >> charlie: that's when he withdrew and said we're going to fall and not lead here. >> this whole thing could not continue. nato could not do this without our assets. so nato is now with our help and our funding and our commanding control and all the rest is conducting the -- >> charlie: and will be success until. >> one assumes. an alliance put together to deter the red army on this plains of northn europe can win 10 pot war in libya, yes. >> charlie: why is it tooking so long. >> good question. ask the people who started it. >> charlie: what would have been the consequence if we had said it's none of our business. >> what are the consequences in
syria? it's ugly but at least we would not be pretending to control something we can't control. >> charlie: when you look at the events and the rise and spirit and what is driefg the arab spring, do you cheer. >> of course. >> charlie: because it's freem, dignity. >> absolutely. >> charlie: it's independence. of course. arab tea party. >> charlie: do they have a foreign policy. >> no. e of the interesting thingsis they say oh gosh the tea party is going to be unhappy. >> charlie: ron rand paul do. ere does the tea party and libertarianism -- >> they're very close. >> charlie: on whatssue, the role of government. >> the role of government but they understand just as government can overreach at heme it can overreach abroad. and people say well if defense cuts are involved in this, the tea party will recoil. i don't think so. the toy party -- tea party is
tinged by the mid western conservativism of robert at --t and others. >> charlie: and the libertarian instinctlso. >> sure. >> charlie: for american and don't get involved. >> there are those who say that the internet itself is producing a libertarian moment. >> charlie: from the bottom up versus the top down. >> i'm 70 years old. i grew up in the 50's. if i wanted to listen to the popular music i tuned in to one radio station that might play fats domino or elvis pressly. today someone wants to hear the music of the day they go to itunes or go to the internet and steal the music. i don't know what they do. when i was young and wanted a cup of coffee i went to a coffee shop and say i want a cup of coffee. now you say i want a venti decaf
late, extra foam. >> charlie: the meaning of all this. >> the meaning of all this is the multiplication, wild proliferation of choice, makes people feel empowshed and makes them very resistent to one size fits all continent-wide solution to problems. basically,ñi the new deal great society approach to life. >> charlie: so i mean, when you look at the republican party today, you believe that it's becoming more libertarian. >> yes, yes, i do. but again this comes back to the sense of the very limited competence of government. in a complicated society. see a society got more complicated -- >> charlie: you say government is bad by definition. >> of course not, of course not. >> that's why i particularly dislike discrediting government by overreach. no one has done more to discredit government than people
putting on government burdens and tasks it can't perform. respect for government and confidence in government went up under ronald reagan because it was doing less and doing it ll. >> charlie: even though it was the problem not the solution. >> you're leaving out an important part of that sentence in his first inaugural address. he said in our current situation comma, government ... >> charlie: hereo you think reagan stands in terms of great presidents? i mean we all know lincoln and washington and roosevelt are there. >> summerset -- once said he stands in the i. >> charlie: reagan would be in the second rank >> only because of lincoln preserving the country from the civil war and roosevelt wore in deeing pression at the same
time. reagan in my judgment catalyzing the end of the cold war is just a cut below. >> charlie: by going and saying mr. gorbachev, tear that wall down and also understanding that they did not have the economic under strength that allowed them to be a great nation. >> and by the confident rearmament of the country with arms. >> charlie: even though it created a huge deficit. >> again, huge not by obama standards. >> charlie: that was 1980. >> still. >> charlie: 1980. >> still >> charlie: 30 years ago. >> the question is how did reagan catalyze the end of the cold war and i think it was in no small measure by putting the pressure of competitionn a soviet economy that buckled under it. >> charlie: fair enough. it clearly happened and they knew it too. >> yes. >> charlie: they understood it. so when you look today at the compromise that, at the bill that came out of the so-called
deal, is it meaningful? is it super committee ththese triggers to be able to deliver the kind of -- >> the only lasting change will result from elections that will change the personnel in washington. now democracy rests on opinion. opinion is shiftable sand. therefore there are no permanent victories in a democracy. or anywhere else for that matter. but certainly in a democracy. the so-called cut mea basically that instead of adding $10 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, we're only in the new austerity going to add $7 illion. >> charlie: speaking of that suppose the president said i'll let the bush tax cuts expire. would you have been against that. >> yes. >> charlie: for both. for those over to,000. >> i do not think this is the time to increase the weight of the state on the creative energies of the united states.
particularly on the president calls millionaires and billion years. >> oil companies. >> and the private jet people. unr the president, millionaires begin at individuals earning $200,000 a year and couples earning $250,000. by the way if you're a chicago high school principal with about 25 years service married to a chicago police officer with 25 years service, you're almost rich under the president's understanding of this. they're both over $100,000 probably. so the president's millionaires and billion years is somewhat an elastic term, to say no more. but the rich that he wants to tax more have another name besides the rich. they're investors, job creators, entrepreneurs. >> charlie: most entrepreneurs aren't rich. >> that's right. most entrepreneurs are small businesses. >> charlie: in the garage
somewhere. >> that's right. in all this argument no one's ever posed the question, the fundamental question is how much do we want to subsidize the last 20 years of american's lives. this is all driven by the politics of -- >> charlie: the cost of healthcare is mainly, how much of the percentage of the cost of healthcare is in the last two years of the life. >> an enormous amount of medicare in the last two years of life. and there's so many ethical questions involved and oers no one wants to mention it. the elderly are a growing more than of the population. they are an even faster growing more than of the electorate because they vote more than others. >> charlie: and the babyboomers are moving up. >> in part because the welfare status is much more important to them because the welfare state exists to transfer wealth into working young and middle age 9 retired elderly, mentions and medical care. and no one wants to come around and say we are -- >> charlie: what's your recommendation for that? >> well, let me show you
something, charlie. you're much too young to have one of these. >> charlie: the double rp thing. >> no. this is my medicare cured. >> charlie: let me see. >> isn't that pretty. i never used it. i showed it to my doctor once. he said that's wonderful, george, now we're going send your bills to your children. that makes a lot of since, doesn't it. charlie, when social security was founded, it was life expectancy was 64, the retirement age was set at 65 in the 20th century, the average length of retirement expanded from two years to almost 20 years. social security was never designed to provide a subsidized retirement spanning a lifetime. >> charlie: social security and immigration are like the third rail of american politics. it's not tea party. a variety of presidents have tried to do something about those subjects. and they have to appoint a
commission to get anything. >> rise the retirement age. raise the retirement age charlie. i've been getting social security now for a bunch years. >> charlie: you make so much money you c't tell. >> i'm not retired. i have no intention of retiring. why should i be getting social security. >> charlie: i'm with you. as long as it protects those people who need it. as long as they are protected. the welfare state exists that subsidizes two things that did not exist in 1935. >> charlie: what do you believe in that you think barack obama does not believe in. >> limited government. >> charlie: you don't think he believes in efficient effective government. >> i think he believes in efficient effective and unlimited government. >> charlie: the government can do no wron >> the very reason he like woodrow wilson wants the government freed from the founder's shockals is because he believes it's inherently efficit and inherently good at doing things.
>> charlie: what is the social contract between government and the people. >> get out of the way. deliver the mail, defend the shores and let people -- >> chaie: that's it. >> i'm simplifying something. >> charlie: you can't believe that, you cannot believe that it's just national security and deliver the mail. >> of course i don't believe it. >> charlie: that means you're in favor of a g.i. bill aren't you. >> i am in favor of the g.i. bill which said ... >> charlie: well, go ahead. >> it was a different kind of entitlement. you had to do certain constructive things in order to be eligible for it. get married and buy a house would hip you, go to school would help you with that. >> charlie: when you look at your life, we haven't seen each other on television for several years. when you look back at it's, what would have been the defining moments for you? >> that's interesting.
the goldwater campaign -- >> charlie: and buckley too. >> seeing the berlin wall when i s a student oxford i spent a lot of time about berlin. >> chaie: you saw east and west. >> yes, i saw the stakes of politics and it's serious. beyond that, just i start out to be and briefly was a college professor and got a doctorate studying political philosophy and became very interested in the american contributio to western political philosophy. we're back to the sainted medicine again. >> charlie: were y a great admirer of sainted burke. >> yes. hack is a great man but burke, some conservatives like russell kirk say he should be the load star.çó not for me because burke was an englishman and he was of an established church kind of
conservative. he liked the aristocracy, i don't. i'm a madisonian. >> charlie: is american aristocracy rich or gifted. >> it suld be what jefferson called the natural aristocracy. that is those whose merits give them earned success. earned is the crucial difference. >> charlie: and that in fact is part of the definition of american exceptionalism. >> absolutely. the great sense of openness and fluidity that has defined american. and that is und siege today. it's a constant struggle to make sure it is more possible for people to get on the lower rungs of the ladder of upward mobility. and that takes work. it takes good government policies. >> charlie: i would argue passionately the premise which you may or may not agree with. it is that for a sense that
there are people who are, who are among the natural aristocracy who might have different political philosophy. but in a sense in their understandingof what america means, it is a shared assumption. and it's not defined by each other's understanding of the role of government. >> that's right. let's go back for a moment to the question of the will doctrine of government. >> charlie: right. >> government exists to protect preexisting rights. government doesn't give us rights, the government row techs our rights. government if it knows limitations, it will be modest before the wisdom in the market. the libertarian impulse in america, which is powerful and perennial, says only this. fore the government interferes with the freedom of the individual or of individua making consensual arrangements with one another, it ought to
have a pretty good reason for doing so. and often the government interferes without a good reason. sniessments -- >> charlie: thas right but altering the market -- you can blame it on people, individuals who are looking for genomes -- easy credit or blame it on a predator system there seeing it as an easy way to create instruments of finance, financial engineering that had little respect for that consequence. >> let's begin with your proposition the market is not always wise. is it more often wise than congress is? >> charlie: yes. >> you're setting a low threshold. >> charlie: and the interesting thing today is that the congress is viewed for the most recent crises with more criticism than the president. >> that's partly because we've
had this frankly civic illiterate see. it is working. until you get a broad conssus capable of operating under our divided sovereignty it's divided horizontallymong the branches of government, it's divided vertically. until you get broad consince the government doesn't work very well. that's why consensus is part of the madisonian imperative. >> charlie: is compromise part of the madisonian. >> sure, he compromised. >> charlie: who is more willing to compromise in the most recent political debate. >> let's see. the conservatives wanted a balance budget amendment, they compromise. >> charlie: that's a bit like
saying, you know, i want to double the tax rate. nobody believed that. >> the president wanted to increase our taxes and he compromised. both sides compromised. >> charlie: the president want to increase our taxes by reducing the deductions for certain corporations, reduce the deductions not raise the rates. >> wait a minute. he did say he would not accept a deal that didn't increase taxes on people like him who could keep hundreds of thousands of dollars they don't need. i defy you -- >> charlie: what do you think that meant. was he talking about deductions when he said that. >> no. he had to mean the tax rates on the -- >> charlie: h, the two year period. he voted for the extension but he would not have. a lot of people say we would not have as big a deficit. we would simply let those two bush tax cuts expire. >> a lot of people say that. i don't. >> charlie: so youare now 70. >> i am. >> charlie: so what are you looking forward to. >> 80. >> charlie: is there a great
book in you that you have not yet written. >> i'm writing it. i am. >> charlie: it's not just some idea that the next best thg i do. >> no. i'm writing it. i even have the title and it will not surprise you to know that the title is the madisonian persuasion. i'm going to explain why madison was right, james madison of the princeton class of 1776. >> charlie: 79. >> 77, something like that. >> charlie: and your boogieman was the class of. >> 1879. i'm going to demonstrate with irrefutable logic the superiority of madison to wilson. >> charlie: come to this table and talk about it. >> i will. >> charlie: enjoyed it. a pleasure.